Denise DeVaan '75
Denise DeVaan is President and CEO of DeVaan & Associates, LLC, and through ICF International is currently Senior Asset Building Consultant to the Assets for Independence (AFI) Program, Federal Department of Health & Human Services, Washington, DC. In her current work she leads a team of 15 consultants working with HHS Regional staff, local grantee organizations and partners to implement the ASSET Initiative in all fifty states. This initiative is implementing widely the lessons and practices of early demonstrations in a variety of states. Denise led the demonstration in Minnesota. After leading a 1997 public policy campaign to win passage of the Family Assets for Independence in Minnesota (FAIM), Denise began her consulting business to lead the design and implementation of FAIM through multi-site network reaching nearly all 87 Minnesota counties. Working through Community Action Agencies, Women Venture, Indian Tribe and City County Federal Credit Union, this transformational pilot program of matched savings accounts and financial education demonstrated that individuals living in poverty, when given an opportunity, could build a personal asset base, gain financial literacy and move out of poverty. The model builds relationships between public, nonprofit and private organizations, especially financial institutions, at the local and state levels to combine expertise and resources to focus on ending poverty. In Minnesota $2million and nationally $66million has been deposited in matched savings accounts by low-wage workers. Thousands have completed financial education classes, gotten banked, purchased homes, pursued higher educations, and started microenterprises. Denise graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in 1975 with a major in Theology and went to obtain a Masters in Human Development from St. Mary's University. Her service learning experiences in college set her on this path of service to others. Between college and her asset building work, Denise focused on social policies and programs to reduce poverty. Mid-career she was selected to receive the prestigious National Kellogg Fellows Leadership Award that allowed her interaction with the leaders of the most dynamic social change efforts in the world. Her Kellogg leadership studies in Northern Ireland, South Africa, Cost Rica, Brazil, Mexico and the United States provided a new understanding of how to build cross-sector partnerships to change how people living in poverty are assisted and to building dynamic coalitions that get results. Denise is active in volunteer leadership roles in national organizations focused on ending poverty.